SXSW Eco Interview: Alejandro Rios, Masdar Institute

| Tuesday October 14th, 2014 | 0 Comments

This post is part of Triple Pundit’s ongoing coverage of the SXSW Eco conference. For the rest, please visit our SXSW Eco page here.

masdar-institute-logoWe’ve been following Masdar Institute for some time on 3p, which meant I was particularly pleased to talk to Dr. Alejandro Rios last week at SXSW Eco.  Specifically, we talked about a new project called ISEAS, which stands for “Integrated Seawater, Energy and Aquaculture System.”  The concept is every bit as interesting as the acronym suggests.  Take the challenges of feeding people, producing clean energy and dealing with scarce fresh water, and engineer a solution for all three.  It may be a tall order, but the ISEAS project proposes to do exactly that.

In a nutshell, Masdar Institute is attempting to use halophytes (plants that grow in seawater) to produce biofuels while at the same time filtering the pollutants associated with growing fish or shrimp in aquaculture ponds. The benefits are potentially huge:

  • The process uses only salt water, which is plentiful — even in Abu Dhabi — thus eliminating any debate about whether it wastes water.
  • The halophytes will also eliminate waste from the aquaculture — a major problem in traditional shrimp farming operations.
  • Useful biofuel will be produces when plants are harvested — possibly even jet fuel.
  • The whole thing is a carbon sink with a negative carbon footprint.

Granted, it’s all just an experiment at this point, but in the video below, Dr. Rios explains the basics…

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Lego to End Partnership with Shell

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Tuesday October 14th, 2014 | 0 Comments

Greenpeace LEGO campaignLego recently announced that it will not renew its contract with Shell when it ends in 2016. “We want to clarify that as things currently stand we will not renew the co-promotion contract with Shell when the present contract ends,” the company said in a statement released last week. The announcement comes after a three-month-long campaign by the environmental group, Greenpeace. The group set its sights on Lego, demanding that the toy company drop its partnership with Shell.

The company made it clear that it did not like the campaign by Greenpeace. Instead of a campaign targeting the company, Greenpeace should have had “direct conversation with Shell,” Jørgen Vig Knudstorp, president and CEO of the Lego Group, said in a statement by the company. Knudstorp added that Lego does not “want to be part of Greenpeace’s campaign, and we will not comment any further on the campaign.”

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

The Carbon for Water Program’s Impact in Rural Kenyan Homes

RP Siegel | Monday October 13th, 2014 | 0 Comments

Editor’s Note: Triple Pundit’s RP Siegel visited Kenya to learn more about the LifeStraw Follow the Liters campaign. This is the second post from his trip. In case you missed it, you can read the first post here.

IMG_20141010_104431Last week, I described a school visit, in which the team introduced a number of LifeStraw Community Filters — provided by the Follow the Liters Campaign that just kicked off this week. The program will provide clean water to 125,000 school children in western Kenya.

On Friday, I made a number of home visits with Steve Otieno, Vestergaard‘s country director for climate & water in Kenya. Steve manages the Follow the Liters campaign here. He also managed the Carbon for Water program, which, funded by carbon credits that were administered by Climate Care, provided nearly 900,000 LifeStraw family filters back in 2011. The company maintains a staff in the area, who, assisted by a large volunteer force, makes regular home visits to ensure that the families are using the filters properly and are having no issues with them.

The company had hoped that after the pilot was completed, the program would continue to expand across Kenya. But the carbon market, which drives the program, has not kept pace. Now they are looking into other funding sources including local governments.

At the opening ceremony on Monday, Steve said, “We have been a family, but now we are a community.” Over these past few days I have come to see the meaning behind these words.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

After the Climate Summit: The U.N.’s Way Forward

Mary Mazzoni
| Monday October 13th, 2014 | 2 Comments

This post is part of Triple Pundit’s ongoing coverage of the SXSW Eco conference. For the rest, please visit our SXSW Eco page here.

Triple Pundit was one of hundreds of organizations to attend the annual SXSW Eco conference in Austin last week. This post is part of our ongoing coverage.

Triple Pundit was one of hundreds of organizations to attend the annual SXSW Eco conference in Austin last week. This post is part of our ongoing coverage.

If you’re anything like me, it was tough to step away from the computer during Climate Week NYC. Like so many others, I scrolled tirelessly through Twitter during the People’s Climate March, which drew more than 400,000 supporters from all over the world in a hopeful foreshadowing of things to come. Then it was quickly on to live feeds of the United Nations Climate Summit, a historic gathering that promised to pave the way to a more sustainable future.

But last week as I strolled through the Austin Convention Center at the 2014 SXSW Eco conference, I overheard murmurings that the march and summit had disappeared from news feeds as quickly as they arrived — that the media had all but forgotten the momentum supporters worked so hard to build.

Of course, just because a subject vanishes from the 24-hour news cycle doesn’t mean it loses its footing at the forefront of the public agenda. For activists, supporters and, yes, even world leaders, the U.N. Climate Summit is still very much a hot topic. As a group of sustainability professionals, nonprofit leaders and reporters filed into a U.N. panel discussion at SXSW Eco, it was clear the summit still mattered a great deal to us. We all had one question on our minds: What happens next?

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

It’s High Time to Overhaul Water Pricing

| Monday October 13th, 2014 | 6 Comments

General_Collection_deadzoneRecent water-related catastrophes in places like Toledo, Ohio, Los Angeles and West Virginia highlight an increasingly pressing need for the U.S. to make significant new investments in water resource infrastructure and management. They also cast light on outdated market structures and pricing mechanisms that result in counterproductive, even perverse, use and management of precious water resources.

In a recent article published by online environmental magazine Ensia, long-time water resource specialist, author and journalist Cynthia Barnett delves into the at-times murky world of the political economy of water in the U.S. “We’re subsidizing our most wasteful water use – while neglecting essentials like keeping our water plants and pipes in good repair,” she writes.

How best to restructure water markets so as to make genuinely sustainable use of water resources is a controversial and hotly debated topic among economists, government leaders and agencies, as well as end users. More broadly, it raises the economic issue of how public goods – water, air, knowledge and national security, for example – are priced by markets and allocated among end users. In her article for Ensia, Barnett quotes Amsterdam-based water economist David Zetland, “You can get to sustainability, but you can’t get there without putting a price on water.”

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Impossible Foods Building the Next Bloody, But Meatless, Burger

Leon Kaye | Monday October 13th, 2014 | 6 Comments
Impossible Foods, Patrick Brown, fake meat, vegan, meat alternatives, Leon Kaye, carbon emissions, meat production

Impossible Foods wants to build a better burger

If plant-based protein becomes the norm — and meat production becomes only a minor, not major, contributor to the world’s problems coming from carbon emissions and pollution — then much of the credit should go to Stanford University researcher Patrick Brown. The professor of biochemistry, who has spent much of his career on genetic research, has taken on a new quest: finding alternatives to animal farming. And one of his ideas is a plant-based hamburger that oozes out blood like the real thing.

His brainchild is Impossible Foods, a Redwood City, California startup that has scored $75 million in venture capital funding, according to the Wall Street Journal. The company is developing fake cheeses and meats, including his beef substitute that uses plant-based molecules to recreate a more environmentally friendly, and humane, alternative to steak and hamburger. In his quest to change how we eat, and put a dent in the global meat industry, he is focusing on the environmental argument while trying to develop a product that has the taste and texture of the real thing — eschewing the emotional and ethical arguments typical of the anti-meat crowd.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

7 Strategies for Achieving LEED Certification

Sarah Lozanova | Monday October 13th, 2014 | 0 Comments

ariaWant to learn more about integrating LEED into a sustainability report? We’re bringing our GRI certified sustainability reporting course to Las Vegas and including a special section on LEED. This course is hosted by ARIA- MGM Resorts International and will be complemented with information on LEED requirements, Energy Efficiency, and a tour of the Aria’s efficiency measures! For more info or to sign up, click here.

GRI

Leadership in Energy and Efficient Design (LEED), the certification standard set by the U.S. Green Building Council, is transforming how many buildings are constructed, remodeled, maintained and operated. The program utilizes numerous categories: sustainable site, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, indoor environmental quality, and materials and resources. Is the building close to public transportation? Does it use locally-sourced building materials? These are all important questions when seeking LEED certification.

Achieving LEED certification is a powerful tool for for companies undertaking Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) sustainability reporting, which measures an organization’s economic, social and environmental impacts and communicates them to a diverse group of stakeholders. GRI reports identify ways to improve in these three areas, and the built environment significantly impacts all three. So, pursuing LEED certification can be an avenue for achieving goals established from GRI reporting.

Indoor environmental quality, for example, impacts employee well being by providing high indoor air quality and ample natural daylighting.  This can boost the bottom line by improving productivity, reducing absenteeism and lowering operating costs. If higher indoor air quality is achieved through the use of nontoxic finishes and less electricity is used to light the facility, then this also reduces the environmental impact of the facility.

With these things in mind, use these seven strategies if you want to achieve LEED certification and meet your GRI goals. 

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

New Clorox App Allows Consumers to See More Ingredients Inside

Leon Kaye | Monday October 13th, 2014 | 0 Comments
Clorox, ingredients inside, transparency, cleaning products, sodium lauryl sulfate, Leon Kaye, fragrances, ingredients inside app, ingredients disclosure

Just a partial list of fragrances in Clorox products.

Buying cleaning products has long been a murky process. Few laws requiring companies to disclose the chemicals are on the books — so of course, most companies do not list what they put into those bottles. But for some public health advocates, required ingredients disclosure has been their rallying cry. Now more companies are responding in kind. For example, Clorox recently announced an expansion of its “Ingredients Inside” program and an updated release of its smartphone app that aims to educate customers about the company’s portfolio of cleaning products, from bleach to room fresheners. Fragrances, those pesky additives where it is almost impossible to sort out how they are formulated, are the latest addition.

And indeed, that is quite a laundry list of fragrances Clorox uses in all of its products. But that list is it — no other additional information about these ingredients was released. Consumers who want more information are directed to a Wikipedia page, or the International Fragrance Association. One can also download a list in PDF format if they want to learn the industry names of the fragrances. So, are these updated apps and disclosures actually helpful to consumers, or is this just marketing in the guise of transparency?

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

We Can Absolutely Stop the Spread of Ebola

3p Contributor | Monday October 13th, 2014 | 1 Comment
A UNICEF social mobilizer teaches children about proper hand-washing in an effort to curb the sprad of Ebola in Conakry, the capital of Guinea.

A UNICEF social mobilizer teaches children about proper hand-washing in an effort to curb the sprad of Ebola in Conakry, the capital of Guinea.

By Robin Kim

While Thomas Duncan was dying from Ebola in Dallas, Texas, two brothers, Ali, 6, and Satique, 9, were recovering. They are leaving their treatment center in Sierra Leone to return home to their dad.

Tales of survival are rare moments of triumph in an epidemic whose power to terrify is having deadly consequences on economies and societies. Yet these bright spots also deserve to be known because they can lead to more bright spots, greater impact — and hope transformed into truth.

Other bright spots include UNICEF, which is using its global presence, knowledge, relationships and infrastructure to identify, develop and propagate the best ways to contain and treat Ebola. Its door-to-door prevention campaign will reach every household with life-saving information and protection kits.

These bright moments include that of Dr. Paul Farmer: His organization, Partners in Health, provides community-based care for millions in the developing world, and his efforts to curb Ebola in Liberia are yielding success. “There is no need for the majority of people with Ebola to die if they’re diagnosed quickly and receive effective and prompt supportive care,” he told an audience in San Francisco last week. “The best way to stop Ebola is to wipe it out at the source, where the epidemic is currently out of control.”

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

SXSWeco Interview: Adam Mott, The North Face

| Monday October 13th, 2014 | 0 Comments

This post is part of Triple Pundit’s ongoing coverage of the SXSW Eco conference. For the rest, please visit our SXSW Eco page here.

The_North_Face_Graham_Smith

Adam Mott is Director of Sustainability for The North Face.  Last week at SXSW Eco, I had a chance to talk to him about what’s new at the company, and how they are taking sustainability deeper into the design of the company’s products.  In particular, The North Face’s well known Denali Jacket has undergone an evolution that’s greatly increasing the use of recycled material, and radically decreasing the use of water in the production process.

In the video below, Adam talks about the Denali as well as other developments at The North Face.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Experts Discuss Tackling Big Problems Through Design at SXSW Eco

Alex Vietti
| Saturday October 11th, 2014 | 0 Comments

This post is part of Triple Pundit’s ongoing coverage of the SXSW Eco conference. For the rest, please visit our SXSW Eco page here.

Triple Pundit was one of hundreds of organizations to attend the annual SXSW Eco conference in Austin last week. This post is part of our ongoing coverage.

Triple Pundit was one of hundreds of organizations to attend the annual SXSW Eco conference in Austin last week. This post is part of our ongoing coverage.

On the first day of SXSW Eco, design experts discussed examples of how creative design makes sustainability easy, cost-effective and beautiful. Moderated by Vince Digneo, sustainability strategist for Adobe Systems, panelists from Frog Design, Building Robotics and Levi Strauss & Co. showcased their innovative approaches to solving problems while making their products, services and consumer experiences better.

Denise Gershbein explained Frog Design’s position: They help their customers with global production design that is long-term and systems focused. She explains that cradle-to-cradle and visionary thinking is at the root of their design consultations, and these are the most important attributes that lead the non-linear design process towards solving complex sustainability problems.

In my view, the most interesting component of the panel was Paul Dillinger’s deep dive into the sustainability-driven design tactics he leads at Levi Strauss. He began with the recognition that the fashion industry has a notoriously bad reputation for being highly wasteful and unsustainable, from the mostly unrecyclable materials through the environment-intense chemicals. This is a result of an industry that is primarily concerned with trend relevancy and valuing consumer needs over the bigger picture of eco-consciousness. There is a trend in ‘eco-fashion’ labels, but he notes that the design and marketing approaches they utilize often only address one issue of a very large and complex system, like focusing solely on the use of organic cotton.

He attributed this shortcoming in the fashion industry to the consideration of environmental constraints as barriers to creativity and freedom of design. But in fact, Dillinger, the company’s head of global production innovation, said he uses these as springboards for innovation and sustainability. He feels that the process of unlocking environmental and social qualities that can be built into pieces of clothing is actually more creatively rewarding, and he has seen firsthand how these attributes can create more business and consumer benefits.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

8 Companies Working to Eliminate Hunger

Mary Mazzoni
| Friday October 10th, 2014 | 0 Comments

a-mission-of-bread-and-hope-lgWith a busy week behind you and the weekend within reach, there’s no shame in taking things a bit easy on Friday afternoon. With this in mind, every Friday TriplePundit will give you a fun, easy read on a topic you care about. So, take a break from those endless email threads, and spend five minutes catching up on the latest trends in sustainability and business.

Thursday, Oct. 16, is World Food Day — an annual day of action against hunger. Commemorating the creation of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations on Oct. 16, 1945 in Quebec, Canada, WFD asks people to come together in their commitment to eradicate hunger in their lifetimes.

An estimated 805 million people, one in nine worldwide, live with chronic hunger — a startling statistic that underscores the importance of action on the issue. While spreading awareness on World Food Day is great, it takes year-round action to secure real change. With that in mind, this week we’re tipping our hats to eight companies that are working to eliminate hunger worldwide.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Dell, Google Technology Inspires Oakland Middle Schoolers

| Friday October 10th, 2014 | 2 Comments
7th grader Jose Morga explains how his used a Dell Chromebook to design their experiment to test the composting ability of worms in space.

Seventh grader Jose Morga explains how his team used a Dell Chromebook to design their winning experiment to test the composting ability of worms in space.

“Sometimes they just need to bang on something really hard,” principal Claire Fisher explains to me when discussing middle schoolers at Urban Promise Academy and the need to maintain the drums in their music program. The middle school keeps energetic students banging away through a variety of grants, fundraisers, and general elbow grease from a pack of community members who are committed to improving Oakland’s Fruitvale district.

Fruitvale’s BART station gained national notoriety as the location of the fatal police shooting of unarmed passenger Oscar Grant. Urban Promise Academy (UPA, pronounced oo-pah) is a small middle school with a student body that is 87 percent latino or hispanic. Fifty-six percent of the students are English Language Learners, and 90 percent of students qualify for free and reduced lunch. In short, it’s a group of students who didn’t start out with a lot of advantages. But UPA is not interested in focusing on the past, it is interested in getting these students to “college, career and beyond.”

Part of that preparation means making sure that they have an opportunity to engage with the technology that they’ll need in the future. There are many sections of Oakland where upwards of 50 percent of the residents don’t have computers or internet access at home, so the pressure is on schools to introduce the students to the technology that will help them be successful in life.

UPA has partnered with Dell to put Chromebooks in the classroom.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

What is All the ‘Collectively’ Fuss About?

Leon Kaye | Friday October 10th, 2014 | 4 Comments
Collectively, sustainability, climate change, Vice Media, Leon Kaye, sustainability writers, Jonathon Porritt

Collectively is joining the sustainability conversation, and some are not happy about it.

This week, Collectively.org launched. Described in a press release as a “super brand coalition” platform to “raise awareness and inspire millennials to adopt a more sustainable way of living,” I first thought it was a joke. I rolled my eyes as the email also included a pallid quote from Barack Obama and forwarded it onto the editors here at Triple Pundit with a snicker (which is why, PR people, get to the point right away).

Yes, the “super brand coalition” threw me off, as I envisioned a posse of luxury brands going into the Middle Eastern desert to root out terrorism. But when I scrolled down that same email yesterday, it turns out this is partnership between Forum of the Future and some of the world’s biggest and iconic companies: Marks & Spencer, Unilever, Google, Nike, BT and others are sponsoring this new site while VIRTUE, a division of edgy VICE Media, is curating the site.

And according to sustainability writers out there, that background poses a huge problem for Collectively, and the knives are out. “A slew of major corporations,” and “backed by corporate sponsors,” are among the complaints being lobbed at this new site—as if somehow corporate involvement is a bad thing. The “feel good” stories on Collectively are mocked, and the site is even chided for not covering other stories such as the Aral Sea’s disappearance (shame on us at Triple Pundit, as admittedly we barely covered the disappearance of the world’s fourth largest freshwater lake).

But is the criticism fair, with Collectively not even up and running for a week?

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

New Handbook: 100 Percent Renewable Energy Both Practicable and Affordable

| Friday October 10th, 2014 | 11 Comments

WFCE3PolicyCvrAdvances in renewable energy technology, in concert with new triple bottom line-based approaches to government and business, are key enablers of a transition from polluting fossil fuels to locally-appropriate mixes of distributed, renewable energy systems. The renewable energy transition will not only benefit ecosystems and the environment; well designed and executed policies, regulations, public-private partnerships and inclusive, collaborative business models can address societies’ most pressing social and economic challenges as well.

Powering societies wholly on renewable energy technologies widely available today is not only possible, it’s affordable, according to a policy handbook produced by the World Future Council and E3 Analytics.

Appropriately titled, How to Achieve 100 Percent Renewable Energy, the WFC-E3 policy handbook uses eight case studies organized according to four themes – cities and communities; regions and states; national governments; and island governments – to illustrate how innovative policies are promoting and paving the way to “fully fossil- and nuclear-free” societies.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »